Sunday, March 02, 2008

Are Christians Getting the Most For Their Tithing?

I am worried that many of my fellow Christians are not getting the most for their tithing dollar. At 10% income, tithing represents a significant expense. So, I think a devout Christian should demand the most from their church. Unfortunately, I feel that many fellow Christians are just not getting the value they deserve from their current churches in comparison to what I get as a member of the LDS Church. I thought it would be fun just to list some of the benefits I get from my faith:

1. High Expectations: LDS believe that salvation only is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but that doesn't mean the church doesn't expect it's members to repent and keep the Law of Christ. The LDS church expects its members to live an honest, chaste, virtuous, charitable, un-materialistic, Christ-centered life. It is wonderful to associate with other people who are not superficial but live deep, righteous, Christ-like lives. There is no better feeling of peace to your soul than when you feel you are living your life the way God desires.
2. Optimal Congregation Size: The LDS church divides it's congregations after they reach a certain size. The result is a church family that isn't so big that individuals fall through the cracks. Everyone benefits, knows, and serves each other.
3. Diverse Congregations: Congregations are geographically defined so they consist of all members of whatever race or ethnicity within the defined area. Consequently, LDS congregations are some of the most integrated and diverse.
4. Culture of Caring: Taking care of a congregation is too much work for any Bishop or Pastor alone. The LDS church has a system of Home and Visiting teachers which assigns 2 men and 2 women to visit you each month as well as assigns you, with a companion, to visit 2-4 other families each month. If you are married, between those that visit you and those you visit, that is like 9 assigned friends who you can call in time of need. LDS members make you dinners, bring you cookies, plan baby showers, etc. A LDS member feels taken care of from birth to burial and crib to coffin.
5. Additional Scripture: The LDS Church has been given the Book or Mormon, Another Testament that Jesus is the Christ. The Book of Mormon contains beautiful passages that teach that Christ is the only way to salvation, how to repent, and clarifies many doctrines that are unclear in the Bible alone such as infant baptism, literal resurrection, etc.
6. Continued Revelation and Counsel from a Living Prophet: It has been invaluable to have a living prophet who can receive direction from God concerning current modern issues that the Bible prophets didn't comment on. Modern prophets have counseled us to stay away from pornography, to keep out of debt, to be prepared for emergencies, for youth not to start dating before 16 and "going steady" before college, and to not smoke, and drink alcohol. Following the prophet has saved me from the plagues and sins of this generation.
7. Forever Family and Eternal Marriage: The LDS Church has the keys and authority restored through Joseph Smith to seal husbands and wives and parents to children both in this life and in the next. When I got married, I got married for "Time and All Eternity" and not just "Until death do you part" or "For as long as you both shall live." I have many people I have spoken with who have have near-death experiences and many have confirmed to me that they saw that the relationships of friends and family continue in the next life.
8. Promise of Eternal Life: What good is religion if it can't assure you of an eternal reward in the next life. The LDS church provides all the necessary ordinances performed by the appropriate priesthood authority, such as the baptism of water and fire that Jesus Christ himself said was necessary to enter into the Kingdom of God.
9. Help Dealing with Death: Having delt with the death of my brother, 2 grandfathers, and a still-birth child I can attest that the LDS perspective makes all the difference and does bring peace to the soul during these difficult times. This is apparent at any LDS funeral as there are rarely shows of inconsolable grief. A recent PBS/NOVA documentary attested, no other Christian church does a better j0b at helping its people deal with death than the LDS Church.
10. Priesthood Ordination: Like Mike Huckabee, I am an Ordained [LDS] Minister. So is Mitt Romney. I received years of formal religious training and I have been authorized to baptize and confirm my own children and to give blessings and anointing to the sick for my family and others at any time. My wife considers having an ordained minister in the house to be a huge benefit and consolation. All worthy LDS males are ordained into the priesthood.
11. Missionary Program: The LDS Church provides its members with many opportunities to engage in missionary work. We are a missionary church. All 19-year-old males are encouraged to serve 2-year, full-time missions. LDS members are encouraged to assist their local full-time missionaries. Also, retired couples are encouraged to serve missions and can be selected to be mission presidents to oversee the work of 200+ young men and women.
12. Welfare Program: The LDS church does a better job than any other Christian church at taking care of its own. It has one of the most sophisticated and thorough programs for taking care of the needs of its poor and transitioning out of poverty. Also, the church is engaged in numerous high-impact, low-profile humanitarian programs which make a big difference but don't get much media coverage. The LDS church operates a program called the "Perpetual Education Fund" with allows foreign LDS members to take out low-interest education loans like the ones available in the US that can be paid back later on.
13. LDS Worldwide Network: When you are LDS, you are instantly networked with millions of other LDS worldwide. When you are moving into a new area the world over, you are expected to call the other LDS in the new area and they are ready to assist you in relocating, providing information on the best schools, places to live, and employment. When I moved to Georgia, an LDS family helped us purchase our first home all over the phone. The church membership even helped us unload the moving truck.
14. Youth Program: The LDS church operates a junior priesthood (Aaronic Priesthood) program which prepares all young men to be future ordained Christian ministers and full-time missionaries. The LDS church utilizes the Boy Scouts of America program for its young men and has a higher proportion of boys that reach Eagle Scout. The church also has an outstanding young women's program and seminary program which provides formal scriptural/religious study before school every day. Studying the scriptures every day with your peers works wonders to help kids resist the pressures and pitfalls during the high school years.
15. Relief Society: My wife is a member of a worldwide women's organization that helps her develop intellectually and socially. The Relief Society meet weekly and monthly to develop and share domestic and homemaking skills, perform humanitarian service activities, and develop their spiritual devotion to Jesus Christ.
16. Answers to the Great Questions of the Soul: I feel that the LDS Church does a better job than any other church at answering the tough questions. (e.g. What is the purpose of Life, Why am I here, What happens in the next life). I feel like I can answer these difficult question when my own children ask them which makes them feel comforted when confronted with difficult times.
17. Family Home Evening Program: The LDS Church teaches that it is the primary responsibility of Parents to teach their own children the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, they reserve Monday nights as the night for families to stay home and pray, read and discuss the scriptures, and have fun together.
18. Support for Traditional Family Values: No other church that I know of does a better job to support the ideals of the traditional family. I got married at 23 and had the courage to start my family early and feel confident that if I stuck to the LDS program I would be able to raise and enjoy a happy, healthy, peaceful, Christian family. So far the LDS church has delivered. 19. Leadership Opportunities: There is no professional or paid clergy in the LDS Church. Therefore, there are always numerous opportunities to serve as Sunday School Teacher, Boy Scout Leader, or even as Bishop. No other Christian church provides more opportunity for leadership and participation for its membership.
20. Modern Day Temple Worship: According to the Book of Acts, temple worship (in addition to worship in the synagogue or church) continued to be an important part of Christian devotion. Isaiah foretold that the Temple ("mountain of the Lords house") would be restored in the last days ("top of the mountain"). LDS members are blessed that the purpose and ordinances of the temple have been re-revealed, and restored to the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith.

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